Issue Date: November 14, 2016
Seeing static with zinc oxide nanowires
Some industry insiders estimate that electronics makers lose billions of dollars each year to the menace of static electricity. When static accumulates unchecked, it can discharge its energy through electronic components and destroy devices. Researchers led by Andris Šutka of the University of Tartu and Riga Technical University have now shown that zinc oxide nanowires could offer an easy way to spot static before it becomes a problem. The team uses a viscous fluid of amino-terminated poly(dimethylsiloxane) to disperse and suspend ZnO nanowires doped with transition metals. When placed near static electric charge, the wires align with one another and darken the suspension, allowing the researchers to see areas of static buildup with their naked eyes (Adv. Mater. Technol. 2016, DOI: 10.1002/admt.201600154). When the static charge dissipates, the wires return to a disoriented state within the fluid and the suspension regains its brightness. Šutka says the suspensions rely on low-cost materials and scalable fabrication methods that could also make them useful in displays, solar cells, and optoelectronic devices.
- Chemical & Engineering News
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